The good news? Your honeymoon will be one of the best trips of your life. The bad news? Figuring out the best honeymoon destinations can feel like a full-time job, especially when there are so many amazing places to choose from.
Unfortunately, the pandemic put most honeymoons on hold, and couples are just now planning their romantic trips. In fact, a recent survey from Expedia has shown that as many as 97 percent of honeymoon plans were canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, leading to what many experts refer to as a the “mega-moon.”
Because so many couples were left without a trip to celebrate their nuptials, it has paved the way for a honeymoon rush for 2022 and 2023. With travel restrictions in most areas lifted, the demand has never been higher for travel of all kinds—honeymoons especially.
That’s why Duncan Greenfield-Turk of Global Travel Moments is calling 2023 the year for the “revenge honeymoon.” “As countries began to ease if not completely remove restrictions in 2022, this encouraged honeymooners to think bigger and further afield,” he says. “It also meant that those couples that had delayed were eager to get away.”
Gray Ellender of Dune Travel Group agrees that 2023 is likely going to be the biggest year for honeymoon travel since the pandemic. “We have noticed that many couples who were married in the last few years opted to wait to take their dream international honeymoon,” she says.
Ellender also points out that some couples are taking longer trips for their one-year anniversary. “There is something so thrilling about a newlywed couple experiencing a new and different place together for the first time, which makes international travel so appealing for a honeymoon.”
The Best Honeymoon Destinations
As far as the best honeymoon destinations for 2023, most experts agree that exotic beaches and romantic European cities still top the list. However, Amy Vecchione, Chief Romance Officer at Aventina Romance Travel, is also seeing more diversity in honeymoon destination requests for the coming year. From national parks and jungles to luxury resorts that offer world-class rooms and beautiful beaches, there are plenty of places to choose from.
“Couples are spending more, venturing further away from home, and staying longer in the destination,” she says. “There has always been great interest in hitting the beach to de-stress after the wedding, but now we are seeing more bookings to more exotic beach destinations like Tahiti/Bora Bora, The Maldives, The Cook Islands and Fiji.”
If you’re looking for the best honeymoon destinations, here are the most popular spots for 2022 and 2023, according to travel experts.
Hoping to stay in the U.S.? You can still have a tropical, peaceful and super adventurous honeymoon in Key West. This dreamy island city is part of the Florida Keys and has nice weather year round. Stay at The Gates Key West, an affordable boutique hotel with an event lawn that serves as an outdoor playground for honeymooners to relax in hammocks or Adirondack chairs all while enjoying a friendly competition of corn hole or bocce ball.
Take advantage of some fun on-property amenities including lounging in the Rodriguez cigar lounge with traditional, hand-rolled Cuban cigars and sipping on handcrafted cocktails with locally-sourced rum. The hotel provides a complimentary shuttle service to Old Town so you can explore without worrying about grabbing an Uber.
Another great option is Pier House Resort & Spa, which is also located in the same area. Though a bit pricier, the amenities are endless: a tranquil spa, island-chic guest rooms with on-suite balconies, a white-sand beach right on the property and more.
Looking for a new American city experience for your honeymoon? Head over to New Orleans where this is always something fun and exciting happening no matter the time of year. Whether you want to party all day on Bourbon Street or explore holistic sites like the National WWII Museum or the Garden District, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in NOLA. Stay at the Windsor Court Hotel. It’s located in the very heart of downtown New Orleans and has pretty much everything to offer newlyweds, including a full-service spa, rooftop bar, and on-site dining. The rooms are all oversized with a romantic, old-school Victorian feel. You’re basically treated like royalty, which is quite fitting for your honeymoon!
Lovers of sunshine and good wine should head to Yountville in California’s renowned Napa Valley. You can spend your days biking or walking around the town before making your way to a lunch or dinner at Thomas Keller classics such as Bouchon, Ad Hoc, and the acclaimed French Laundry. Looking for a cozy bistro with a vintage vibe and great french fare? Don’t miss Bistro Jeanty.
When you’re not eating your way through town, you can drive or Uber to nearby vineyards or downtown Napa. For lodging, our favorite place to stay is Hotel Yountville. The renovated resort features beautiful rooms (many with soaking tubs and patios) as well as a full-service spa, on-site dining, guided meditations and yoga classes, pool deck with daybeds, and free bikes to use during your stay.
Perhaps the most famous island group in French Polynesia, Bora Bora has long been a desirable honeymoon destination. It’s loaded with 5-star hotels, each located on their own motu islands surrounding the lagoon, notes Vecchione. Because of the price, she recommends spending just part of your time on other islands to allow your budget to go further. It’s also a great way to get a different experience.
“Moorea is a quick ferry ride from the island of Tahiti where the international flights land. And unlike the other islands that primarily offer water-based activities, Moorea offers land activities like hiking, ATV riding, and golf,” she says. “Taha’a has a barefoot chic style and feels very authentic Tahitian.”
Vecchione’s favorite resort is The Brando. It’s the only one on the island of Tetiaroa, an atoll comprising a dozen small islands surrounding a pristine lagoon. “The casually elegant resort has 35 villas, each with their own private pool and beach area,” she says. If The Brando is a little too expensive for your budget, she also recommends Le Bora Bora by Pearl Resorts. It’s a 4-star Relais & Chateaux resort with overwater bungalows, as well as garden and beach villas with private pools and magical views of the iconic Mount Otemanu.
If you’re an animal lover who appreciates the great outdoors, Kenya is an exotic destination for couples. Not only will you get an opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat, but you can indulge in other unique and authentic experiences (like spending a day immersed in a real African tribal home and cooking and eating and dancing with locals, explains Vecchione.)
“For those who want a truly unforgettable and instagrammable hotel experience, we recommend spending the first or last night of your honeymoon at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. It’s an English Manor-style boutique hotel that’s home to a herd of Rothschild’s giraffes,” she says. “These giraffes visit the hotel every morning and evening and poke their heads into the windows of your room or breakfast table in the hope of getting a treat. This creates opportunities for a once-in-a-lifetime photo of you with your new gentle friend.”
The Maldives continues to be a hot destination for honeymoon couples. Think overwater bungalows, pristine white-sand beaches, spacious terraces, private pools, unobstructed views and more. Greenfield-Turk recommends staying at The Intercontinental Maldives Maamungagau. It has sweeping blue panoramics of the Indian Ocean, soft white sands and palm tree peppered terraces.
“Nestled close to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it is an opportunity to be amazed by the myriad of marine life in our lagoon including a unique manta ray sanctuary,” he says.
Read more about how to plan the best Maldives honeymoon here.
Botswana and Zimbabwe
Deep in the very heart of Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe offer unparalleled adventure. “In Botswana, Xigera Safari Lodge is the result of nearly 70 years of passion, care, and attention to detail,” says Greenfield-Turk. “The camp is the dream and vision of the Tollman family, the pinnacle of a life’s work creating extraordinary hospitality and features 12 beautiful suites and an exceptional Baobab Treehouse in the wild landscape.”
In Zimbabwe, he recommends staying at Matetsi Victoria Falls, a near ten-mile stretch along the mighty Zambezi River featuring a private playground and 19 suites. “Set out with a conservation-minded guide on foot, by vehicle, and by boat, watching with delight as great herds of elephant, buffalo, and plains wildlife roam the private game reserve’s 136,000 acres of protected wilderness,” he says. “Share stories of your safari adventures under night skies at a traditional African boma barbecue.”
Greece is another honeymoon staple that is here to stay. While Athens offers an array of historical sites and is the easiest to fly into from pretty much anywhere in the U.S., Greece also offers a ton of gorgeous and scenic islands to visit, including Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Paros, Naxos, Corfu and more.
“Santorini with its iconic whitewashed buildings along the dramatic coastline, the rich history in Athens, and the hundreds of other Greek islands with beautiful clear water make Greece one of the best honeymoon destinations right now,” says Dan Bagby, travel advisor with HoneymoonAlways.com. “The suites at the Blue Palace in Greece offer amazing ocean views and magical sunrises and you are just a 5-minute walk to the nearby fisherman town.” There are so many great resorts in Santorini, but for the best sunset views, he recommends checking out White Santorini or the Grace Hotel. We also love the Andronis Boutique Hotel.
If you’re looking for history and culture along with the best food and wine you’ve ever tasted, add Italy to your honeymoon agenda. Italy is, of course, a very large country with lots to offer, so Ellender likes to split it up into two different trips since there is so much to do and see. “If the couple can do it all at once, we recommend Venice, Rome, and Florence, with a day trip to Tuscany,” she says.
“We like to send them through Milan to Lake Como or Southern France, but many couples also request the Amalfi Coast, where Naples, Positano, Sorrento, and Capri are popular to explore.” For lodging she recommends Rocco Forte, which has fabulous hotels throughout Italy, including Hotel de Russie in Rome and Hotel Savoy in Florence.
You’ve probably heard some incredible things about Bali, all of which are likely true. It’s a honeymooner’s dream, although it’s quite the trek from the U.S. And one of the best places to stay is even more remote. Nestled in the heart of lush green forests is a unique tented camp called Capella Ubud.
“Inspired by the early European settlers from the 1800s, architect Bill Bensley designed Capella Ubud, Bali as a tribute to their spirit of adventure,” he says. “Capella Ubud is set within a dramatic terraced landscape, with prominent rice paddies surrounding the entrance, leading through a densely forested valley all the way down to the sacred Wos river.”
Another great spot to stay is NIHI Sumba, which was named the number one Hotel in the World by Travel + Leisure magazine for two consecutive years. “NIHI Sumba is for travelers who seek a new type of luxury: activity-driven experiences, cultural immersion, freedom, and fun,” says Greenfield-Turk. “The 27 villas are crafted by local artisans using native teak and rattan, and feature expansive outdoor rooms and private plunge pools.” Excursions take you to villages and ancient sites, and you’ll also get private access to one of the world’s best surfing beaches.”
Ways to Make Your Honeymoon Unique (and Save)
Dreaming of going to one of these spots? Signing up for a wedding registry on Zola helps make the process way easier with experience and cash fund options. That means you can register for everything from airfare to hotels, meals, even the luggage to pack your cute new honeymoon clothes in.
Here’s a look at our favorite honeymoon experiences that you can register for on Zola, as well as the fun add-ons that will help make your trip great:
1. An Awesome Airbnb
Who says you have to stay at a hotel for your honeymoon? Home vacation rentals can be an ultra-private and romantic option. They let you do things like hire a private chef to cook you an amazing dinner for two. They’re also a great option if you’re hopping from one city to the next, and let you live like a local for the time you’re there. Zola makes it super easy to book the perfect abode with Airbnb gift cards that you can add to your registry.
2. A Honeymoon Photo Session
Those Instagram celebrities won’t have anything on you when you book a photo session with Flytographer. They have photographers in over 300 cities around the world. They set up the time, date, and location of your photo shoot, be it at an intimate dinner, a hike, or stroll down the beach. The best part is all the photographers are locals, so you’ll get the inside scoop on the most Insta-worthy locations to visit for your shoot. Bonus? Your photos will be sent to you within 5 days. Start looking for the perfect hashtag now.
Those business-class seats to your honeymoon destination? They’re totally in-reach with Zola’s cash fund airfare option. Zola presents this option in a super elegant way, and lets you set either a fixed amount, or give guests the option to choose how much they want to contribute, which makes it the perfect group gift. With the right seats, even your plane trip can feel like part of your honeymoon with lie-flat seats and champagne. Did we mention ice cream sundaes?
4. Your Dream Resort
Dreamin’ comes easy, but the price tag for the ultimate honeymoon resort can add up…fast! Registering for nights at that resort you’ve been eyeing is a great way to lighten up your honeymoon budget, since lodging typically makes up the majority of your trip.
Other romantic honeymoon destinations on our wishlist:
–Four Seasons Resort Lanai
Lanai City, Hawaii
Los Cabos, Mexico
5. Couples Massage
One of the best things you can do on your honeymoon is a couples massage on your last evening there. It’s an incredible way to end the trip, and enjoy a beautiful sunset while relaxing at the spa afterwards.
According to a recent Zola survey of honeymooners, over 63% of couples opt for a beach honeymoon. That means they get to take advantage of all the insanely fun water activities resorts tend to offer. Things like jet skiing, kayaking and snorkeling are a great way to explore the beaches around you. They’re also a good excuse to get active without hitting the gym. (Yachting counts as exercise, right?)
7. Breakfast in Bed
Room service is one of those things you never get at home. And breakfast in bed? Even more so! Indulge in a romantic breakfast in your hotel room at least one day. Waffles and smoothies in bed? Yes, please!
8. Sunset Drinks
Planning fun cocktails each night is a great way to sit back, relax, and completely enjoy your surroundings. You can easily register for drinks at that bar in Paris you’ve always wanted to go to, or the beachside bar at your resort. Just create a ‘Drinks With a View’ option under Cash Funds to your registry. Your guests will love knowing they were able to treat you to a round (or two) of Moscow Mules.
9. Romantic Dinners
While we love finding local, casual eateries wherever we go on vacation, you have to have a splurge meal at least once on your trip. A lunch or dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And when you get to add it to your wedding registry you won’t feel as guilty about getting that extra glass of champagne while you’re at it.
10. Whatever You Can Dream Of!
Want to learn how to make pasta from a local chef in Tuscany? Or maybe practice your ukulele with a musician in Hawaii? You can register for something totally unique that is totally you (and your partner) on Zola. Just choose the ‘Create Your Own Cash Fund’ option and select from their curated photos (or add your own), and include a custom amount. You’ll be saying Buon Appetito in no time.